First Step Communities

Reviewed by the Sacramento Region Community Foundation

$5,785 raised by 74 donors

58% complete

$10,000 Goal

First Step Communities (FSC) was founded by Stephen Watters in 2015. The Sacramento based nonprofit has been delivering low barrier emergency shelter and social services to the most vulnerable homeless adults since 2016. For the last three years, FSC administered the Winter Sanctuary Program (WSP) in partnership with Sacramento County and Department of Human Assistance. The WSP was a low barrier seasonal shelter which operated using a rotating church facility model. The targeted population included unsheltered homeless adults over 18 years old who have not been successful gaining admittance into long-term shelter programs, transitional, or permanent housing. The WSP accepted 100 individuals each night. FSC successfully operates these programs by using both a housing first and a harm reduction model, with a service-intensive approach to helping and supporting all of FSC clients.

Each year FSC has increased the number of supplemental services provided to our clients. Some of the most effective services included case management, medical/mental health evaluations, referrals, and housing navigation. In 2019, after the WSP shelter closed, FSC continued with their case management and rehousing programs helping over 200 clients get housed.

In 2020, Sacramento County Department of Human Services decided not to fund the WSP. Instead on January 1st, FSC launched the North A Street Campus Program (NASCP). The NASCP includes case management, rehousing, and sanitation programs as well as a 24-Hour X 365 Shelter Program. The North A Street Shelter currently provides shelter for 40 women and 40 men. FSC believes strongly this shelter should be 100% women. FSC case managers have become keenly aware of the high level of violence towards women of all ages in the River District. FSC will address this horrendous situation by providing intensive case management for victims of this violence including workshops that provide options for these women. The FSC objective will be to engage the residents of the shelter in services, including case management designed to prepare clients for housing.

In June 2020 FSC opened a second site, "The Grove" Emergency Bridge Housing which provides cabins and services for transitional age youth (TAY) ages 18-24 men and women. The Grove has been case managing all TAY on-site and this has already resulted in housing opportunities for approximately 72 TAY clients. FSC partners with a number of collaborative partners at The Grove including WEAVE, Young People Recovering (YPR), Northern CA Construction Training (NCCT) and Twin Rivers Unified School District. These collaborative partners offer recovery support, educational opportunities, job training and DV support. Their participation increases the opportunities and success rate for all of our TAY clients.


First Step Communities will create interim housing and emergency shelter for people experiencing homelessness. Here they will live in safety and dignity, receive the extensive case management and supportive services they require to take a First Step away from homelessness toward self-sufficiency, permanent housing and productive life.


First Step Communities (FSC) is seeking unrestricted funding to increase critical staffing to address the growing incidence of mental illness and substance abuse in our population and expand our infrastructure. FSC will finish 2022 with 4 geographically dispersed shelters/interim housing communities with the capacity to provide shelter for more than 700 clients annually. Most of the program specific staffing requirements will be funded by their sponsors. Our long-term success however will require growing an efficient staff to manage the activities which span across all our programs such as: mental health clinicians, human resources and training, ongoing infrastructure development, volunteer coordination, and strategic planning. In addition, there are always gaps in the requested and actual funding for programs for things like shelter staff, front desk attendants, and maintenance/monitoring personnel. In those cases, FSC plans to manage a "pool" of resources to be used at multiple sites.

First Step Communities is seeking program funding to help with the construction of tiny home - sleeping cabins for our communities. FSC is working with Studio 81, various builders, Urban Land Institute, local AIA architects, Homes4Homeless, Pride Industries, NCCT, Home Aid, and others to design and build several styles of sleeping cabins. The total cost of a cabin will be less than $18,000. They are constructed to provide heat/air and energy efficient structures. Each cabin will be designed to provide interim transitional housing for one or two people. They are approximately 120-160 square feet and contain room for beds, storage, work surfaces, and some small furniture.

FSC will also proposes a larger cabin option for a family or single parent with children. Specifications for the cabin may vary, but the cost will remain under $15,000. First Step Communities is seeking In-Kind donations and pledges to support the construction of a community center and medical clinic to serve as the heart of the larger family focused village. In-Kind donations of building materials, construction labor, landscaping materials, and furnishings will help make the FSC village successful. Details and specifications will be available as we proceed. It is our hope that some of our collaborative partners will consider helping in their areas of expertise with plumbing fixtures, laundry fixtures, kitchen fixtures, and most of all labor.

First Step Communities is seeking funding for the construction of the community center and medical clinic. This structure is the heart of the community providing all communal facilities including restrooms, showers, laundry, kitchen, and dining areas as well as offices for case managers and medical professionals. Clients will hopefully develop a sense of belonging to a community of peers all working towards similar personal objectives. It is this sense of belonging and community that will help clients overcome a once weakened sense of self-worth.

First Step Communities is seeking land parcel donations for the development of a 1.0 to 3.5-acre village site. We are looking for parcels within the City of Sacramento and/or Sacramento County. The ideal location for a site is near public transportation. Other amenities in the area would be preferable although are not mandatory since we envision a self-contained village structure.

Equity Statement

In an ongoing effort to achieve the FSC mission we reaffirm our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). We are proud that our employee base reflects people of all ethnicities, genders and preferences. Our diverse workforce possess the skillsets and understanding of working with trauma-based methods to achieve our objectives. All employees are encouraged to bring their individual talents into our FSC culture to collaborate with others and to best serve the most vulnerable individuals in our community.

Organization Data


Organization name

First Step Communities

other names


Tax id (EIN)


Mission Category

Housing, Shelter

Operating Budget

$5,000,001-$10 million

Organization Need

Funding: Unrestricted, Funding: Program, In-Kind Donations, Other

Demographics Served

Individuals with disabilities, Low-income individuals/families, Homeless/Underhoused/Unhoused

Counties Served



1400 North A Street, Building A
Sacramento, CA 95811

Service areas

Sacramento County, CA, US





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